Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman was a thought-provoking “read” for me. I chose to listen to the audiobook while building a very long fence over a handful of days. I enjoy this type of project and the weather was beautiful – which is odd for late October in Michigan. Everything was seemingly set up quite nicely for a good book, prayer, and serious ‘System Two’ self-reflection. Unfortunately, I underestimated the time it would take to complete this task. To make matters worse, I lost a complete day of work because I forgot to add a gap for a gate. I was forced to start completely over on day two due to a system one error that could have easily been avoided. Stress plagued the rest of the project. I was able to overcome it for the most part with a little help from the Spirit; however, I still feel the frustration and disappointment of losing that entire day of hard work.
This entire experience became a journey into a greater state of consciousness for me. The lessons that made the biggest impact on me fall into one of the following three categories.
- My behavior is determined by my thought process which can either be slow and conscious, or quick and automatic.
- Being patient and evaluating my response or actions before reacting or making a decision will lead to better outcomes.
- Emotions may influence my decision-making and need to be considered and/or tabled.
I found the case studies and explanations from Dr. Kahneman to be a revelation. It was more than just a scientific understanding of how people think and make decisions. It was a ‘wisdom guide’ and a fantastic leadership tool that will undoubtedly provide insight for me and those I lead in the future. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” divulges how our brains are influenced by error and prejudice (even when we think we’re rational) and provided an actionable technique for slower, smarter thinking.
Execution of these techniques will always be the deciding factor in my personal growth. I love to learn new things and this was enlightening and motivating for me, however, if I fail to implement the methods and understanding into my life, what benefit is it? Robert Coven explains this in his TEDx talk titled, “Breaking Through” when he describes his students that miss the point of an exercise and do not seize the opportunity to become an expert because of a limited outlook, AKA, ‘System One’ thinking. 
I look forward to driving these techniques into practice and continuing to grow in this form of consciousness. Ironically, he shed light on ‘System One’ decisions I have made in the past, and mistakes I was making simultaneously while listening. I wish I could claim my recent fence mistake as an “accidental measurement miscalculation,” but it was no accident. It didn’t even cross my mind when I started. I was in a rush, impulsive, and overconfident starting this entire project. I paid the price for my avoidable errors and it made me pause and contemplate what an accident really is? Is there a definitive line between a true accident and a system one error? Are they the same or related? Can I honestly just stumble over a crack in the sidewalk, or is it an error on my part for not anticipating the bump in the walkway? Is there an error consistently associated with negative outcomes?
I think many of the circumstances in my life that I’m not proud of stemmed from my automatic, ‘System One’ thinking. Errors are more prone in this line of thinking however I do not believe it’s the enemy. I feel extremely blessed to have my fight-or-flight instincts which have been lifesaving at times. On the other hand, the more information I have to make a decision is always beneficial. Auliq Ice, an investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist said “everything you’ve worked for can go to waste with only one wrong decision” that may happen because of incorrect or less information to which our brain reacts spontaneously. 
Warren Buffet, a shrewd investor and savvy businessman, is known for a famous quote that captures emotional decisions and patient thinking described in Dr. Kahneman’s book. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  There is a lot of wisdom in these statements and these men are not incredibly successful because they are impulsive or irrational. I do not think either of them would claim invincibility and have made plenty of mistakes. I do believe they have a high level of understanding and have developed discipline and endurance that has led to financial success.
The book and fence project became an experience that required many pauses for contemplation and deliberate ‘System Two’ thinking. Although I was frustrated by losing time and effort with the fence project, I am fortunate to not have lost something greater due to my impulsive thinking. I am grateful for the lessons in this book and pray that the Spirit continues to guide me with patience, grace, and wisdom in my future decisions and thought processes.